I have been in the Army National Guard for ten years this July. I’ve done a myriad of things, including a deployment doing the BEST mission in the Army (aero-medical evacuation), and working as a full time federal technician for four years. I am thankful for my experiences and the people who believed in me and gave me the chance to grow and succeed. I thought it fitting to share my top 10 favorite things about being an American Soldier.
# 1 I learned how to talk to anybody – As a PV1 in an aviation unit, I got very comfortable being around officers. It made me less nervous later on when I had to give briefings and interact with people that outrank me.
# 2 I learned to believe in myself – I never saw myself being in the military, so it was a challenge at first. I learned that my potential was previously untapped, and the opportunities I have are only limited by my own doing.
# 3 I learned that leadership exists at every level – Leaders are not just officers or senior NCOs. There is an opportunity for everyone to shine.
# 4 I learned to trust my existing abilities – my first drill was during an ARMS inspection. I didn’t even have a uniform yet, and the inspector asked me where the emergency shutoff valve on a HEMTT was. My platoon sergeant tried to tell them that I had no clue and to leave me alone, but the inspector said he didn’t care, and he wanted me to answer the question. Fortunately, that valve is very clearly marked on the truck. I looked at the truck and pointed it out. Everyone was surprised I got it and immediately tried to get me to become an officer (I decided to wait seven years).
# 5 I have some great leadership to look up to – my TAG has been in the military for 51 years and is finally retiring in July. Recently, the first female general officer in Oregon earned her star. The opportunities really are limitless.
# 6 I have a responsibility to pay it forward – I have been fortunate to be well taken care of by my leadership. It is my duty to pay that forward and take care of my Soldiers.
# 7 My career is what I make of it – it is solely me that is responsible for how I serve my time in the Guard. I have faced my fears numerous times over and never regretted a second of it.
# 8 I get paid to stay physically fit – This isn’t something I understood when I first joined. It took me a little while to understand the total Soldier concept. I had always been an athlete but had let myself slack off in college. I learned that I had to get back into being an athlete again.
# 9 I learned to enjoy the additional duties I get assigned – I will never turn down training or a school again. I did when I was enlisted, and that is not a good way to serve. I am thankful that my leadership is willing to send me to training, and I need to take advantage of it.
# 10 I have become a better all around person – I am working on graduate school, I have settled into a good life, and feel confident that things will work out if I am willing to put in hard work for them. I feel that I am a better citizen because I am a Soldier.
Final Thoughts: I have a lot to be thankful for, but the military is what I am thankful for the most. I now understand what service truly is all about.
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